Joey Votto gets a lot of heat in Cincinnati, some deserved and some not.
He’s clearly a different guy with different opinions on how to go about his business. For the most part that is good, but it also seems to make him a lightning rod.
(So, too, does his big contract, something that has never quite made sense to me, either with Votto or predecessors like Ken Griffey Jr.)
In the case of his run-in with a fan during Tuesday night’s dramatic 7-5 win over the Cardinals, Votto handled everything just about as well as can reasonably be expected.
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That includes the incident that started the whole thing. In a perfect world, would he have immediately turned the other cheek and walked away when a fan got in his way as he tried to catch a foul ball? Sure.
Is that actually how anyone would expect anyone to really react in the heat of the moment? I hardly think so. And while any contact with a fan has the potential to be a big issue, this appears to have been literally harmless.
The fan naturally lost sense of where he was reaching for the ball, and Votto naturally was annoyed he not only wasn’t able to record the out but endured a little friendly fire.
Fine, no problem. We’re all adults here, right?
But the Reds first baseman also deserves praise for quickly acting to make sure the incident didn’t balloon into anything larger than it was – or at least to make sure the narrative had a happy ending before it could be told too many times in the unforgiving world of media (social and traditional).
Currently riding a 16-game hitting streak, Votto is turning his season into a bright spot in an otherwise lost one down by the Ohio River. That’s good for everybody as the team fights to maintain fan support amid a necessary rebuilding effort.
He’s already made news earlier this year for teasing opposing fans with potential souveneirs, but ironically he also made news almost exactly two years ago when he gave a fan an autographed ball for getting out of a teammate’s way when he was trying to catch a foul ball.
The team needs his star power both at the box office and between the lines if it is going to get to the other side and be competitive again before his career is over.
Because of that contract, he’s going to be in Cincinnati through thick and thin. He can be an albatross or a beacon, both with his bat and his actions.
Chalk last night up on the positive side of the ledger in terms of both.
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